How to Budget as a Couple
There is no one size fits all for budgeting as a couple. Circumstances vary greatly from one household to the next. Creating a budget as a couple should be a discussion to understand money attitudes. You and your partner should discuss what is your desired lifestyle, how often you plan to take vacations, will you be responsible for supporting aging parents. All of these conversations help to develop a budget that works for you as a couple.
Budgeting as a Couple: Debt
When I married my husband, we both came in to the marriage with no debt outstanding. I paid off my student loans and car loan. He paid off his car loan. We both were paying off our credit card debt each month.
When entering a relationship where one or both partners have debt, it is important to discuss how to handle debt payoff as a couple. Some questions to consider when discussing debt as a couple:
- Will all debt become part of the household budget?
- Will you work together as a couple to pay off debt?
- Will each partner tackle their own debt?
- Which Debt will you tackle first?
Budgeting as a Couple: Income
Some households only have one income. Other households have two separate but similar incomes. Some households have one partner who makes 2 or 3 times more money than the other partner. In any of these circumstances it is important to discuss how each partner will contribute to household expenses. I spoke with some married friends and families, and below are some of the ways couples choose to contribute individual income toward a couple’s budget.
- A couple can both contribute all of their income to a joint account. All income is used for household expenses, debt payment, savings goals, and discretionary spending.
- A couple splits expenses equally, contributing enough to cover the household expenses and savings goal.
- A couple contributes to the joint account proportionately to their income. If one person brings home $1,000 per month and the other partner brings home $3000 per month. They both agree to contribute 50% of their income toward household expenses and savings goals. One person contributes $500 and the other person would contribute $1500 for a total household budget of $2000. Each Partner Keeps the amount left over after Household expenses are handled.
Budgeting as a Couple: Household Expenses
Discuss how you will handle the necessities and where you may want to cut back. Housing Payments, Groceries, Minimum Debt Payments.
Budgeting as a Couple: Savings Goals
Some common saving goals for couples include:
- Saving for a Wedding
- Saving for a Down Payment on a House
- Saving for a Family Vacations
- Saving to build an Emergency Fund
Budgeting as a Couple: Guilt Free Spending Priorities
Spending priorities will vary from person to person. After tackling debt, household expenses, and savings goals. When creating a budget as a couple, it is import to discuss some discretionary income for each person. This portion of the budget is to allow your partner to save or spend this money on whatever they please. There should be a judgement free spending zone. If your wife uses her guilt free spending to splurge on clothes let her. If you husband wants to use this guilt free spending to splurge on fishing rods, Let Him!
When creating a budget it is important that despite individual spending habits, each person has some room to spend as they please.